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Volunteer Pilot Who Flew Blood Across Arizona Dies In Crash

Mac McClure and Ray Reher
(Photo by Stina Sieg - KJZZ)
Mac McClure, left, flew more than 800 blood missions for Flights for Life. Volunteer pilots with the group help supply remote hospitals with blood every day. McClure died Tuesday in a plane crash. Ray Reher is also pictured here.

We have a sad update to a story we brought you months ago about Arizona pilots who volunteer to fly much-needed blood to hospitals across the state. The group is called Flights for Life, and its president Mac McClure died this week during a blood mission. 

Whenever anyone asked Mac McClure why he delivered blood throughout Arizona for Flights for Life, he answered the same way.

“We save lives,” he would say. “It’s the only reason I fly blood.”  

When the 76-year-old’s plane went down Tuesday night in a wooded area outside Flagstaff, he was on his 887th blood delivery in a decade. That’s more than anyone else in Flights for Life.

“It was 100 percent with him,” said fellow Flights for Life Pilot Jerry Kapp, who added that McClure would probably rather fly than eat.

Kapp also said McClure was always working to make the organization better, and Sue Thew agrees. The spokeswoman for United Blood Services of Arizona remembers when McClure was given an award for his work with Flights for Life. Thew said McClure was adamant he wouldn’t be in a photo alone – saying that the whole organization deserved the honor.

“He wasn’t the kind of guy who wanted to take the credit for anything,” Thew said. “He wanted to be part of a team that did something wonderful for the community.”

And he was.

Back in late 2015, when he was last interviewed by KJZZ, it was clear how proud McClure was of helping people. 

“And if you never need it – I hope you never do – we will be there,” he said.

A few months before McClure died, he helped Flights for Life expand to parts of New Mexico and Texas. 

Find more information about Flights for Life on their website.

Stina Sieg was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2013 to 2018.